Highlights

The U.S. government announced a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech, who are collaborating to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, to by 100 million doses for $1.95 billion. Which translates to $19.50 per dose. But another competitor Moderna is allegedly considering pricing their vaccine more than 50% higher than that of Pfizer-BioNTech’s, according to the Financial Times. The question remains, however:

Will they be able to get away with this?

The Financial Times reported that an anonymous source tipped them off that Moderna is planning to price their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273 between $50-$60. Each course of the vaccine will include two doses, which brings the price down to $25-$30 per dose. But it is also reported that Moderna allegedly intends to maintain this pricing for the U.S. and other larger economies. The firm has not officially revealed anything.

Moderna, who just began their third phase of studying and observing the effectiveness and side-effects of mRNA-1273 last week, will have to pass through the FDA before the product hits the desperate market. It will at least be some months before those results are concluded.

In spite of everything being so word of mouth, the firm suffered some flak for the anonymous tip-off, mainly because the U.S. government has invested a lot of money in their COVID-19 vaccine program.
In April, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) gave Moderna up to $483 million to help with the development of mRNA-1273. Last month, they received yet another cash flow worth $472 from BARDA for the same purpose, adding up to a grand total of $955 million in federal funding.

Pfizer, on the other hand, did not receive any federal help in the form of funding.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois (Democrat) released a statement to Barron’s accusing Moderna of “contemplating how to turn federal funding into sky-high profits”.

But then the question remains: will they be able to get away with this? The answer shockingly is, maybe.

Why? Because federal funding also accounts for assisting with clinical trials during the development stage, manufacturing set-up to meet the demands, causing the price tag per dose to be ever higher. Experts suggest that given the health crisis the price of this vaccine will ultimately follow the laws of demand and supply.

Moderna’s conclusive results from their previous study were very promising. Moderna is one of the six COVID-19 vaccine candidates in late-stage testing. Three of those six are Chinese drug developers and are highly unlikely to win supply deals in the United States. With the possibility that the vaccine production rate will be well below the demand suction, and the chances of this pandemic getting any better any sooner are really low, Moderna just may be able to price it at $30 per dose and get away with it.

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